Iowa State Game Prep Part 1

Another year, and another big Homecoming weekend is upon us. The Bears welcome the Iowa State Cyclones as the sacrificial homecoming lamb this year. But how do the teams actually match up?

The Baylor Bears welcome the Iowa State Cyclones to the final Homecoming weekend at Floyd Casey Stadium this Saturday evening. The Cyclones are in a rebuilding season and just 1-4 on the year. While their record is less than pristine, they have been in every game this year. They have lost all four of their games by less than 8 points. But one of those losses was to Northern Iowa, but the rest were to 4-2 Iowa, 4-2 Texas and 6-0 Texas Tech. Those are not bad losses at all, and they played hard in all three of those games.

MEDIA INFORMATION
Date Sat., Oct. 19 | 6:00 p.m. CT
Location Waco, TX / Floyd Casey Stadium (50,000)
TV ESPNU
Radio ESPN Central Texas | Sirius 117 | XM 192
Online Audio Listen Online
Live Stats Gameday Central
Ticket Info Purchase Tickets
Game Notes
Baylor Notes | ISU Notes
Twitter @BUFootball

Analytical Breakdown

FEI Rank

12

37

F/+ Rank

6

55

S&P+ Rank

3

69

GE Rank

4

70

Sagarin

5

60

Massey

7

81

RealTime RPI

10

105

Average

6.7

68.14

This is another team that Bears dominate in the polls, either the ones with voters or computers. The Bears rank anywhere from 3rd to 12 overall, while the Cyclones have a huge variance with a best ranking of 37th and a low ranking of 105. Mind you, there are only 129 teams in these rankings, so to have a stretch of 68 spots is pretty massive. This just means that the computers have no idea what the Cyclones are. They are 1-4, but have lost each of those four games by 8 or less points, but they haven't exactly played a murderers row in 2013. This could be a bad team that somehow finds itself hanging around early in the year before going off the tracks, or an average team that just had a tough luck stretch to start the year. One of those losses was the questionable Texas game, and that UT squad just walloped Oklahoma, so who really knows about any of these teams?


Offense

ADVANTAGE


Defense

Play Efficiency

1

85
Rushing S&P+

15

107
Passing S&P+

1

37
Drive Efficiency

2

55
FEI

5

77
First Down Rate

1

46
Available Yards

1

49
Average

3.71

65.14

One thing you might note is some different analytical measures above. Well, hopefully you did. FootBallOutsiders.com releases some of their other data measures after Week 7, including the FEI rankings. The Fremeau Efficiency Index (FEI) is slightly different from S&P+ which was relied on in previous weeks. FEI does a better job of filtering out end of half clock kill drives and garbage time drives to only judge that drives that actually matter. It also rewards more for playing better teams win or lose.

As you can see, FEI has the Bears as the 5th best offense. They rank well in everything, except for the Offensive Strength of Schedule to date ranking, which is a weak 111th. The Bears also rank 101th on methodical drives, which are drives that run 10 or more plays, something the Bears just don't do. For example, Kansas State ranks 11th in Methodical drives.

So with all of that being said, the Bears offense has a significant advantage over Iowa State. The Cyclones have been significantly better against the pass according to FO.com, and the stats prove that if you look deeper into the box score. Iowa State is allowing 267.2 passing yards per game (111th in the country) which is a ton, but opponents pass on them 40.4 times per game. That is the 11th most in FBS. They only allow 6.6 yards per pass attempt which ranks 39th in the country. Even run heavy teams like Texas and Tulsa have attempted 45 and 49 passes on them.

The Cyclones are a bit better against the run, where they allow the 88th most yards per game (180.40). Overall, they allow 447.6 yards per game which is 23rd worst in the country. But again, those are skewed due the huge total of plays per game the defense is having to face. They see on average 85.8 defensive snaps per game (4th worst in FBS).


Defense

ADVANTAGE


Offense

Play Efficiency

40

75
Rushing S&P+

65

39
Passing S&P+

66

62
Drive Efficiency

28

70
FEI

42

50
First Down Rate

40

119
Available Yards

56

98
Average

45.57

73.29

Coming out of the Kansas State game, most Baylor fans are rather concerned about the shoddy run defense. Well, Iowa State is an even better running attack than Kansas State, according to FO.com, where the Cyclones rank 39th and the Wildcats rank 40th in Rush S&P+. Through traditional stats though, the Wildcats average more yards per game (184.17 to 150) and yards per carry (4.6 to 3.73). But in the last three games, the Cyclones have found their rushing attack. Here are their per-game yards per carry for the 2013 season: 3.82 / 2.46 / 4.07 / 4.02 / 3.67. They also have added 7 touchdowns on the ground in the last three games. This is a better rushing attack the past few games, especially when considering the opponent.

They Cyclones offensive attack can be best described as below average. They get about 4.8 yards per offensive play (99th in FBS) and gain 381 yards per game (80th). Iowa State punts the ball 1.5 times for every offensive score (91st in FBS, compared to Baylor's .3 which is 1st). Look for Iowa State to run the ball on first down heavily (57% of the time they run it) but they run it even more on second down (59%). Third down is the only down where the pass more frequently at 56% of the time.

The Bears run defense will have to improve against Iowa State, as they have more speed in the backfield than Kansas State did. Their running back is also currently a better threat than John Hubert was for the Wildcats.

Players to Watch

The Cyclones offense starts and stops with Sam Richardson who is their starting quarterback and best rushing threat. The sophomore quarterback has over 1100 yards passing and 10 touchdowns with 4 interceptions. He also has added 243 yards rushing on 71 attempts. The duel-threat talent from Winter Park, FL started a handful of games as a freshman last year and won the job this offseason to guide the Cyclones attack. He is not a very accurate passer at this point of his career, but has a good arm and is capable runner from the quarterback position as well. Richardson has averaged 5.7 yards per carry over his first two season s in Ames, and knows what to do in the running game.

Joining Richardson in the backfield is Aaron Wimbley, a 5-foot-9 and 170 pound running game that is in his first season with the Cyclones. The junior college transfer is the Cyclones leading rusher at 367 yards, and 4.77 yards per carry. The other threat on offense for Iowa State is QuentonBundrage, who leads the team in receptions with 23 with a healthy 16.30 yards per catch. The sophomore has god size at 6-2 and is capable of beating you deep or over the middle.

Jeremiah George is the lone returning linebacker with career starts in previous years, and is the Cyclones leading tackler with 51 total tackles and 2.5 tackles for loss. He is small for a middle linebacker at only 219 pounds. He is roughly the size of Eddie Lackey and played last year at the weak-side linebacker position, usually more for smaller and quicker players and George is both of those things. He is very solid in coverage and has one of the Cyclones two interceptions on the year.

The other player on defense to keep an eye on is Jacques Washington, a 6-foot-1, 220 pound safety who is the most experienced player on the defense. He is their deep safety and is second on the team in tackles with 50. Coming into the season, he was the only Cyclone defender with more than 13 starts in their ISU career.

What do the Cyclones want to do?

Offensively, the Cyclones will look very similar to what the Bears saw last weekend in Manhattan. They run quite a bit of option plays with Sam Richardson being the key. He is not nearly as big as Daniel Sams was for the Wildcats, but he is a tough smart runner who knows when to keep and when to pitch. He will be giving the ball to a much more explosive back than what Baylor saw last weekend in Wimbley, so the edge containment will have to be significantly better on the backside to make sure Iowa State doesn't break a big run. Outside of their option run attack, they run a standard short passing route spread offense, with multiple receivers . They have a nice receiving tight end in EJ Bibbs that can do some damage on quick routes over the middle, but really this offense is about taking what the defense gives them, as long as it is short or medium. They do no stretch the field much at all, and will not use play-action to go over the top very often, more to push the linebackers up and get between them and the safeties.

Defensively, this is the same scheme and style they have had for years under coach Paul Rhoads, just much less talent in the middle of the defense. Gone are their two steady lienbackers from the past few years. That has hurt the Cyclones in the passing game, as they have to bring up their hybrid linebacker and sometimes a safety to be able to stop the run. They don't blitz very often, and usually don't get much of a pass rush as they only have 9 sacks on the year so far. The Cyclones also aren't turning the ball over nearly as much as they have in the past. This is not the same level of defense that the folks in Ames have become accustomed to.


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